December, morning coffee…

It was a typically dark, cold December morning and I was more than pleased when Natasha (and coffee) arrived, just as I surveyed the setting for today’s business over breakfast.

We wouldn’t be alone for long though, as approaching headlights suggested the first of our company this morning were on their way.

Nice and early Martin!’ I said, glancing at the clock on the clubhouse wall, 06.45.

Courtesy of the ‘Missus,’ Charlie. My car had broken-down over the weekend so Sue and the kids kindly offered a lift, they needed to be at school early anyway … I’ll be meeting ‘Bruce the garage’ here as he’s running me back after today’s meeting to attend the vehicle.

‘Sounds like a plan Martin.’

The tail-lights of ‘taxi Sue’s’ car receded in the distance, dawn was finally on its way as were others for our weekly business meeting.

Even in the midst of winter, we enjoyed a good attendance, plenty of interaction, lots of  discussion, the business flowed and with a near full-house … apart from ‘Bruce the garage.’

Martin had received a message to say he’d been called out for ‘an emergency’ and that he’d be in touch asap.

‘The best-laid plans eh, Martin?’

Any chance of a lift over my way Charlie?

Among those at the meeting, someone managed the lift Martin needed with an added bonus … the driver knew he could hook-up Martin with an alternative local garage – a ‘start-up’ looking for more business so it wasn’t long before Martin was back on the road and ‘taxi Sue’ back in the old routine.

‘Bruce the garage’ had left an impression, sadly nothing to enamour his reputation as the ‘go to’ service either.

Today in business, relationships matter. Even more so if you are a service provider, business is personal. It’s not what you have or what you can do that impresses your next best client, it’s how you relate.

community network

Community-focused networking has lots of benefits, some are immediately evident, others need clarification and I was witness to this just recently as around twenty met over ‘brunch.’

Our guest was Michael has a lot of domestic responsibility, being the ‘office at home’ and supporting two young kids. He loved the idea of opportunity through engagement, connecting with others in business. The same for many sharing a similar routine these days …

‘Great business today Charlie, met some good people and so glad I accepted your invitation.’

It’s taking that first step, isn’t it? That’s where the intimidation lies, right? Stepping outside of the ‘comfort zone’ into an alien landscape, we all become moulded by our routines and I think Michael was no exception.

With a greater number working from the home office, we soon realise the value of people.

‘I didn’t know what to expect really. Although, I was half expecting the selly-sell, and/or the ‘sign-up’ so today was a refreshing change.’

‘Yes Michael, it is good to have you with us and course there are those who come along fishing for business, with focus on the referral. Others Michael, are just as happy to engage views, share the dialogue, focus on areas of passion, of need and the point of view, not to mention collaboration and to ultimately sample the ‘culture.’

Business is at times a secondary consideration – or ‘the bonus’ as some put it.

Seems to me, the development of community engagement is important, not least because it inspires better efficiencies by creating belonging. Along with a clear infrastructure, community helps us all, in whatever line business.

Most especially, those working from the home office.

‘Happy people mean a happy business, right?’

True Michael, cultivating the community network has enabled many to plan for the realisation of longer-term goals, the chance to step away from the monthly/quarterly led management figures and visualise the ‘bigger picture’.

Cultivating community delivers so much more. Community inspires relationships, affinity, infrastructure and ultimately the trust – then comes referral.

The human experience

I’ve been around a while, discovered some success and I’m blessed to have been working with some wonderfully talented people.

Over time I’ve also discovered that success is powered by three fundamentals.

Your know-how, your reputation and your network of contacts.

Sounds simple don’t you think? Isn’t that how it should be though?

Hey, you can take away all my money, all my assets and investments, you can take away my customer list as well but if you leave me my business relationships and with my reputation in place … I’ll have the ability to work at successfully replacing everything you’ve taken away.

Having knowledge, social capital and trust is the ultimate security blanket whether we’re heading into good times or bad.

This is why I believe that if we’re in business, any time is an excellent time to increase market share. Whether we’re engaging new prospects, building better relationships with existing customers, we’re developing trust, that’s essentially what we’re about, are we not?

Engaging, building and relating …

Contrary to popular opinion though, building social capital is not about sitting alone in front of the PC, tablet or locked into your i-phone trying to come up with a winning marketing formula all on your own …

No one who is successful creating their meaningful marketing presence works in isolation.

Successful people may have started out on their own sure enough. After all, we need to start to reach the end. But it’s what you do when you recognise your marketing is starting to work for you that counts. That’s when you begin to leverage your ambitions with like-minded people, real humans and combine your ideas with others, leveraging experiences and relationships.

By developing trust within your community, delivering consistent messages … and leveraging that trust is where we may ultimately be successful.

Time tells …

It was one of those clear, crisp Autumn mornings … so wife, father-in-law (George) and I took some time to walk down through the gardens to the church yard. We crossed the old ‘falling-down’ bridge and up, through the gates leading to our destination.

We were here just last month. George had wanted to show us the grave of his own grandmother, laid to rest some 80 years past and a headstone still offering a surprisingly easy read to the stone inscription. George had a question regarding ‘Stephen,’ the family member mentioned and accompanying, ‘Harold’ who had been killed at the Somme …

Stephen had been unaccounted for.

George could identify with certain stories his mother passed on about Harold over time though had he not heard anything about Stephen. It was clear he wished to learn more.

So I’d asked a friend (genealogist) to spend some time and research George and his part of the family and it was just a short time later he returned with news. Stephen had been formally listed as missing in action (MIA) although our current investigation tells us now … Stephen had survived certain wounds in hospital, outlasted the war and after a time he’d been traced living in southern Europe with his adopted family!

What would ‘they’ have thought!

A bemused George led us away past a mature ‘Wingnut’ tree spanning some 18 metres and which was looking all of it’s 25 years … clearly more than a little past prime time.

These get-away too fast, they’re bonnie trees but just too keen to tak a hold and lose their way in the soft earth n the ‘clarts.’ That’ll be felled afore lang.’ stated George.

Thats canny good ower there ‘ George directed our gaze to a ‘Cypress,’ the same age as our Wingnut though not as tall at just a little over 3 metres. Straight and strong.

Added George, ‘that’n will be heor long affta that big-un is gone, these tyek thor time te establish yee knaa.’

I continued to mull-over (interpret?) George’s view, taking time to dwell over insights to the headstone, those long overlooked facts uncovered, laying hidden until now …

Aye, yee could write a book aboot tha un.’ says George wistfully.

‘Now there was an idea.’ I thought to myself … half listening and thoroughly pre-occupied with our trees. While George pondered his own questions, I observed my own relationship with colleagues throughout our regular business referral group …

George, I thought … I’d much rather understand the advantages time spent building solid foundations than the results the alternative may bring…